Love At All Times
One of the most challenging things to do as a human being is to “love at all times.” The very concept is illogical and goes against human nature. Look at all the wars that have been fought, and all the evils perpetrated by man upon one another. For naturally, if you cut me off in traffic, I’m going to express my dissatisfaction in words or gestures. If you cut in front of me while I’m in line, of course I’m going to say, “EXCUSE ME, I WAS NEXT.” If you slap my face for no reason, I anticipate furniture moving. If you’re mean to me, then I’ll be mean to you. If you tell me there’s a dangerous group of men down that path, I’ll elect to go another route or go with an armory. For it’s common knowledge that self-preservation is how we’re wired, that basic instinct compels us to protect oneself from harm or danger through flight or fight. Yet, we’re instructed and even commanded to “love at all times.” For example,
“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” – Matthew 5:44 (NLT)
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” – John 13:34 (NLT)
The latter verse is easier to achieve and less problematic for most. Generally, we can love those who are like us, those who look like us, those who think and act the way we do, and those who agree with what we believe. However, it’s the former instruction that challenges our reasoning and certainly our obedience, “love your enemies.” That’s the dictate that causes many people to stumble, stagger, and even fall.
How is it possible to “love at all times,” even your enemies? Well, there’s only one way. He states, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me” – Matthew 16:24 (NLT). He’s the Way and His name is Jesus. It’s not Jesus Black or Jesus White, but it’s Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ!
Apostle Paul, formerly Saul, can identify with how one can “love at all times,” for he has a dual perspective. For he himself was a benefactor of such love prior to his apostleship. This account is shown in Acts 7: 58-60 (NLT), it reads as follows: “Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him [Stephen] and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.”
Saul would soon become a follower of Christ and he too would adopt the practice and pattern of “love at all times.” In fact, as Apostle Paul, he was stoned and dragged out of town, thought to be dead but was spared. He did not seek vengeance but continued to preach the gospel of Christ (Acts 14:19-21 NLT). Paul would later state, “[His] grace is all you need. [His] power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT). I pray that I and other Christians would whole-heartedly embrace “love at all times” so we can reflect our Father in heaven.